In the United States, the mercury is mostly out of the vaccines. The FDA recommended removing it as a preservative in vaccines in 2001, and now most American children receive vaccines that have only trace elements of mercury. Further, the CDC continues to hold that no studies have shown that mercury in vaccines causes autism.
The Rev. Lisa Sykes, a Methodist minister, places her trust and the trust of her 11-year-old son, Wesley, in the Geiers. "I'm one that really believes a lot in providence and justice, and I think the Geiers have a calling and a place in this debate that is unique," she said. "They combine science, epidemiology and clinical treatment with an integrity and a stalwartness that is very precious and very unusual in this world."
Sykes believes her son Wesley's autism was triggered by mercury poisoning. She said she had the heart-wrenching experience of watching her infant son learn words and then lose them.
"I think a fact is a fact," Sykes explained. "My son was exposed to toxic levels of mercury, and he is toxic. I think a fact is a fact."
Now a fervent activist in the anti-mercury movement, Sykes is attempting to sue a vaccine manufacturer for $20 million.
Mark Geier will probably testify if the lawsuit goes to trial. "Well, the Geiers are amazing in the number of aspects that they can address to this issue," Sykes explained.
Sykes has so much faith in the work of the Geiers that she allows Mark Geier to inject her son with a testosterone-reducing agent, the same thing given to sex offenders to stop their behavior. The Geiers said they have discovered that it also reduces the symptoms of autism and have published a paper detailing its effects. It was quickly attacked as having questionable methodology.
They have also applied for a patent for the concept.
Dr. Jim Laidler is one of the Geiers most visible critics because he has taken them on through his Web site, where he sets out to debunk what he said are theories and treatments based on bad science.
"Their science is not very strong," he said of the Geiers' work.
Laidler is an M.D. and geneticist, just like Mark Geier. He is also the parent of two autistic sons.
Laidler admits to practicing a lot of unproven treatments on his sons, such as an extremely restrictive gluten-free diet and various supplements. "I began to dare to hope," Laidler explained. "And hope is a very addictive drug. I wanted more."
He went deeper and deeper into the alternative world and then, he said, he saw the light.
At a breakfast buffet while on vacation, Laidler's son grabbed a waffle, which his diet restricted him from eating, and wolfed it down. "We were both aghast because we had been told … that he would just deteriorate before our eyes," he explained. "And nothing happened. And we got home and we thought, 'Well, what do we do now?' And my wife made him a big bowl of macaroni and cheese [also restricted] and he wolfed it down and nothing happened."
That was the moment that Laidler became a full-time skeptic. He now thinks the Geiers are off base in their research.